To our beloved Ford Wyoming Center,

On behalf of residents, families, businesses and anyone who has ever made a memory on your campus, the City of Casper pens this tribute to you, our beloved Ford Wyoming Center.

As the heart of Wyoming, Casper was always destined to become the state’s event destination, and in the late 1970s, our residents decided it was time to fulfill that fate. To become the best hosts, we invested $22 million dollars of our One Cent funds into building you, a preeminent events facility, a decision that showcased our community’s wisdom, foresight and fun side. When Danny Davis and the Nashville Brass played your very first concert on April 17, 1982, Casper opened up to a world of new possibilities.

To say that you’ve helped shaped your community into what it is today is no false flattery. Your economic impact can be measured in hundreds of millions of dollars, but the opportunities you’ve created are incalculable. You’ve filled our hotels, restaurants and shops, which has helped create new businesses and keep existing ones open. Casper jobs are more secure because of you. Since 1999, you’ve brought us the College National Finals Rodeo, an event that has solidified Casper’s reputation as capable and worthy of hosting a national championship – not too shabby for a small town in the middle of Wyoming.

Since 1982 you, our Ford Wyoming Center, have become Wyoming’s home for concerts, championships, comedy and everything in between. Your hallowed floor has transformed into chutes, end zones, ice rinks, rings of fire, symphony pits, and the famed standing room only. Musicians, magicians and mediums as well as politicians, ballerinas and pyrotechnicians have all been just up Events Drive, and you made Casper the penultimate purpose for collegiate cowboys across the nation. You gave us Elton John’s piano, Santana’s guitar and Taylor Hawkins’ drums. Kenny Chesney, Garth Brooks and Carrie Underwood have all crooned us from your stage. You brought Broadway to Casper. Princesses, Power Rangers and puppies of every variety have dazzled and delighted families across the decades.

As sensational as the celebrities have been, you’ve never forgotten that you’re a Wyoming local. More than 36,000 Casper kids have tossed their graduation caps into your rafters. You’ve been a first date wingman, the place where countless brides-to-be cried, “Yes!” to dates down on one knee, and where we’ve celebrated milestone anniversaries. From your sloping lawns, we’ve watched fireworks, regional favorites and an eclipse, and inside, we’ve followed a sweet, distinctive aroma across the concourse to your venerated mini-donut stand. You welcome our fundraisers, festivals and craft fairs. Middle schoolers from the furthest corners of the state train through their summers in pursuit of someday competing on your nets, mats or hardwoods. And for dozens of tournaments, you managed to bring even the fiercest rivals together as we cheered Scotty across the floor.

Remarkably, at just 40 years old, you’ve become an integral part of Casper’s history. You’ve stewarded unforgettable Peach Baskets and Shootouts, including that famous Cowboy win over Bobby Knight, and encouraged our over-the-top celebrations of Cavalry first downs. Concerts ranging from the Beach Boys to Mötley Crüe to the Red Hot Chili Peppers to the Foo Fighters became generational markers for kids growing up in Casper. You’ve been around long enough now that many of us have never known a time without you, and our more experienced residents have a hard time remembering what Casper was like before you (was there ever a June without CNFR?).

To our crimson beacon high atop the hill, you represent the thrills of the Cowboy State: a symphony of theatrics, music, sports and entertainment. What an incredible ride it’s been. Or perhaps we should clarify – you’ve taken us on an incredible ride. From all of us down here in the valley, thank you for all of the lyrics, laughs, opportunities and memories over the last 40 years; we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next 40.